Despite all the rumors and speculation, the St. Louis Cardinals were never signing Trevor Story. Why? Look no further than Paul DeJong.
Time and time again, the St. Louis Cardinals have reiterated their belief in Paul DeJong. Yet they continued to be connected to shortstops all offseason.
But they did not sign Carlos Correa. They did not sign Trevor Story. They did not sign Javier Baez. They did not sign Corey Seager. They did not sign Marcus Semien.
Story was the last shortstop to sign and in the days leading up to him agreeing to a deal with the Boston Red Sox, there were still rumors connecting him to the Cardinals. But despite the apparent need at shortstop and his connection to All-Star third baseman Nolan Arenado, they were not interested.
It all stems from the Cardinals’ belief in Paul DeJong. DeJong, 28, is going to have every opportunity to be their shortstop of the future. They want him to take hold of the position. After all, his six-year, $26 million contract is an absolute bargain and if he breaks out this season, it will give them a lot of flexibility on the roster in 2023 and beyond.
Is betting on DeJong a risk? Absolutely. He hit a mediocre .197/.284/.390 in 402 plate appearances last season and instead of replacing him with one of the five All-Stars listed above, the Cardinals chose to bet on him. And if it doesn’t work out, and the Cardinals are once again eliminated from the playoffs early, president of baseball operations John Mozeliak is going to be questioned.
The truth is, the Cardinals were never going to spend big on the shortstop position. Their biggest priority was signing an impact starter, which they added in Steven Matz, and add a few bullpen pieces. They accomplished their goals, even if the fanbase believes otherwise.
It’s not what I would have done. But Mozeliak has earned the benefit of the doubt. But this is, without question, one of the biggest risks he has taken in his time with the Cardinals.